UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 5:20 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) – Synthetic drugs are back on the scene in Ashland, Ky. and police there say they’re seeing extreme reactions from people taking them.
In one case, police say a person was unconscious behind the wheel of a car, and in another, a person acted violently during a domestic dispute.
Police say the drugs often look like marijuana, but they can cause effects that are similar to cocaine, meth or pills.
“Behind a 4,000 pound vehicle basically is like [having] a gun in your hand [and] pulling the trigger,” Major Todd Kelley of the Ashland Police Department said. “It's unknown what they're experiencing behind the wheel. They don't know if they're under control with the vehicle. They don't know if they're seeing things that aren't there.”
In February 2013, Ashland Police raided a head shop called Dark Wings. At the time, police told WSAZ.com they were trying to catch up to criminals as they dealt with laws that did not cover the complex world of synthetic drugs. As that case continues through the justice system, police say they are now concerned about more synthetic drugs in the community.
“It’s something that's above and beyond what we've seen,” Kelley said. “Fortunately, the ones that we've been able to get, we've gotten before somebody did get hurt.”
Now, police are asking for the public’s help in order to keep an eye on people who may be using synthetic drugs and acting out with unusual behavior.
Police say they are working with agencies across the Tri-State to determine how these drugs have gotten into Ashland.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.
Wednesday, Ashland Police sent out a press release reminding residents that consuming the substances that have a visual similarity to marijuana and physical/mental effects of marijuana, cocaine, meth, and Xanax, is illegal.
Police say smoking these substances can cause mental and physical behavior.
Even though packaging clearly indicates that the substance is not for human consumption, citizens are disregarding that warning, according to police.
The Ashland Police Department has encountered individuals in public and while operating motor vehicles that are impaired as a result of having ingested this substance. Persons under the influence of this substance may display behavior such as becoming unconscious while driving, violent and tumultuous physical displays, strange behavior never observed in the past and medical conditions that require emergency medical treatment.
The Ashland Police Department warns that possession as well as being under the influence of these substances is a violation of Kentucky law.